The Moment of (Ecstatic)Truth in the Translator’s Dance

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The Moment of (Ecstatic) Truth in the Translator’s Dance

The Bureau of Memories: Archives and Ephemera

Ethnographic Terminalia 2014

1847 Columbia Road, NW (Downstairs)

Washington, D.C. 20009

December 3-7, 2014


Only in this state of sublimity [Erhabenheit] does something deeper become possible, a kind of truth that is the enemy of the merely factual. Ecstatic truth, I call it.   W. Herzog


“Ecastic truth” according to Herzog is the slippery and sometimes seemingly incongruent lacuna between fact and truth. “…Facts sometimes have a strange and bizarre power that makes their inherent truth seem unbelievable.” Ecastic truth is a concept that speaks to the performative and haunted nature of the archive. The Moment of (Ecstatic) Truth in the Translator’s Dance interrogates the polyvalence of the archive to embrace Derrida’s Hauntology –the generative inbetweeness, an invitation to engage in multiple discourses surrounding fact and truth. The sonic archival material presented are interviews of master sculptors based in the Grand Rue community in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, were collected weeks before the earthquake of 2010.With translation as the subject of the installation, through sonic and visual (re) presentation, the preoccupation is with the “gaps” that occur in translation during the dialectical intercultural exchange and the fluid interpretations between fact and truth. The Moment of (Ecstatic) Truth in the Translator’s Dance is about the liminal zone that the translator inhabits and a space for play in which the very language being negotiated is called into question. Through multiple translations, layers of truths about what was said and what was meant can come to light and be applied to one another to derive a definition of ‘truth’ somewhere in the space between. The Moment of (Ecstatic) Truth in the Translator’s Dance is about contested historical memory and the gaps and blind spots where ecstatic and haunted truths can be interrogated.

Herzog, W. 2010. On the absolute, the sublime and ecstatic truth. Arion: A Journal of Humanitities and the Classics (17) 3 1-12.

Derrida, J. 1993. Spectres of Marx. Galilee: France